With the Sierra de la Borja backdrop to the west, views of Angel de la Guarda island to the east, and the jutting Punta la Gringa to the north, Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, is (without a doubt) one of Mexico’s best hidden beaches.
Oh, and did we mention that it’s in a bay full of whale sharks, turquoise water, centuries-old cactuses, and white sand beaches? Baja California doesn’t get much better than this!
Bahia de los Angeles, Mexico, is a tiny town on the west coast of the Gulf of California that’s so far off the beaten path that it doesn’t even have cell phone service. The town just got electricity in 2007 and there are no banks or ATMs.
But what it lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for tenfold in natural beauty.
The Bahia de los Angeles Biosphere Reserve was established by the Mexican government in 2007 to protect the natural beauty and extraordinary ecosystem of the region.
The reserve includes part of the coast where 5 species of sea turtles lay their eggs, the Canal de las Ballenas, Channel of the Whales, where whale sharks and fin whales live, and 16 islands that are home to sea lions.
The largest island, Angel de la Guarda on the eastern horizon, and the rest of the uninhabited archipelago are also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site chain of islands in the Sea of Cortez.
Looking for more things to do in Baja California? Check out these posts:
- 12 Fun Things to Do in Tijuana
- Classic Baja California Road Trip: 10-Day Itinerary
- How to Go Gray Whale Watching in Baja
- 9 Amazing Things to Do in San Felipe
- Where is Bahia de los Angeles?
- How to Get to Bahia de los Angeles
- Do I Need a Visa to Visit Mexico?
- Using Money in Mexico
- Best Time to Visit
- Is Bahia de los Angeles safe?
- Is There Cell Service in Bahia de los Angeles?
- What to Pack
- Bahia de los Angeles Hotels & Camping
- Where to Restock on Fuel, Food and Water
- Things to Do in Bahia de Los Angeles
- The Complete Guide to Bahia de los Angeles
- More Places to Visit in Baja California
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Where is Bahia de los Angeles?
Known by English-speaking tourists as Bahia, BOLA, Bay of LA, Los Angeles Bay, and LA Bay, Bahia de los Angeles is a bay on the western coast of the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) in the state of Baja California in Mexico.
Along the shore lies a small semi off-grid town which goes by the same name of Bahía de los Ángeles (Bay of the Angels). It’s a home to some restaurants, a handful of hotels, small grocery stores, a museum, and boat tour operators.
How to Get to Bahia de los Angeles
The closest international airport is Tijuana International Airport (TIJ). Find a cheap flight to Tijuana and book a rental car. The drive from Tijuana to Bahia de los Angeles is about 10 hours south on Mexico’s Highway 1.
Many people visit Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California by driving their own vehicles to Mexico on a Baja California road trip. Don’t forget to get Mexican auto insurance for your vehicle. It’s required by Mexican law and US and Canadian car insurances don’t provide coverage in Mexico.
It’s about an 8 hour drive south of Calexico, California via Mexico’s recently paved Highway 5. It’s easiest to cross the US/Mexico border by car at Mexicali East (make sure to get your Mexican tourist permit) and then follow Google Map’s directions to get onto the highway.
Pass through San Felipe, stop for a dip in the Puertecitos hot springs, and continue down until you see the well-marked, left-hand turn to the paved road that leads directly to Bahia de los Angeles is just south of a dry lake bed called Laguna Chapala.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Mexico?
If you’re a US or Canadian citizen, you need a valid passport and a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) tourist permit to visit Mexico.
Using Money in Mexico
The national currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). Check the current exchange rates here. It’s best to have some pesos on hand, but US dollars are commonly accepted in touristy areas, especially as payment for tours and hotel rooms.
Read Next: Top Tips on Using Money in Mexico
Bahia de los Angeles is so small that it does not have an ATM or bank in town. Many places are cash only, so come prepared with all the cash you need for activities, restaurants, and accommodations.
We were told Mercado La Isla will give you cash back if you pay with a card. Luckily, we didn’t have to test it, but please let us know in the comments if you’ve succeeded in getting cash back from them.
Best Time to Visit
Due to its desert climate, the weather in Bahia de los Angeles is usually on the warmer side. December through February are the coldest months, with an average high of 69°F (20°C) and low of 52°F (11°C) in January. With a high of 97°F (36°C), the hottest month is August.
Winter months are busy with foreign tourists heading to Baja California to escape the snow, while Mexican tourists prefer to visit in the spring.
The best time to visit Bahia de los Angeles is September because of the warm water, comfortably warm climate, and whale shark season. The whale sharks are only in the Bay of LA when the water is warmest during the months of July through early November.
Is Bahia de los Angeles safe?
There’s no need to worry about safety or crime in Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California. It’s a laidback town with about 1,000 friendly locals and many part-time foreign residents.
Of course, you don’t want to think about everything that can go wrong on your trip, but emergencies do happen.
World Nomads Travel Insurance provides trip protection, coverage for 200+ adventure travel activities, emergency medical insurance and evacuation, and gear protection.
Be prepared and get your travel insurance today.
Is There Cell Service in Bahia de los Angeles?
Nope. Zero. There’s no cell service in Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, but several of the mini-markets have satellite wifi available for around $20 pesos ($1 USD) an hour. Some of the hotels and campgrounds also have wifi available.
What to Pack
The Bay of LA is a very relaxed, small town without much tourist infrastructure. You won’t need to pack much more than casual beach wear and sun protection for your trip.
Here are some Bahia de los Angeles packing essentials:
Reef-safe sunscreen: Please, please, please don’t use “regular” chemical sunscreen when going into any natural water source! The chemicals are kill coral, and are toxic to animals and plants. We only use mineral SPF because it’s much safer for the environment and our skin. This one is our favorite because it doesn’t burn when it gets into our eyes and rubs in easily.
Travel towel: This towel absorbs 4x its weight in water and packs down into its travel bag. It wrings out practically dry and has a secure hanging loop so it won’t fly away when the Baja winter wind hits.
UPF shirt: These shirts are the best for Baja sun protection! They are made from lightweight UPF materials (basically SPF for clothing) and have flaps for airflow that helps you stay cool.
Inflatable kayak: A watercraft of some sort is key for getting out there to explore the islands scattered off shore. We love this budget inflatable kayak that comes with its own pump and oars. We’ve used it plenty of times on the Sea of Cortez and even reached some of the islands in Bahia Concepcion. Inflatable stand up paddle boards are also a popular choice down here.
Wide-brim hat: It’s the classic Baja Hat. A super wide-brim, straw hat that protects your shoulders and upper back from the sun. Plus, it dries quickly when it gets wet.
Snorkel and mask set: Definitely buy this BEFORE you head into Mexico. Adult snorkel sets are hard to find down here unless you’re in a major city’s dive shop. It’s tempting to buy a cheap set or a full-face mask, but don’t. You’ll have a much better snorkel experience if you invest in a quality snorkel and mask set like this one. Otherwise, water can and will get into your mask and snorkel and that’s never fun and dangerous for beginners. We use this spray to prevent fog from building up on the inside of the mask.
Mexico guidebook: Forget about buying a Mexico travel guide that simply lists the best hotels and restaurants in every city. If you really want to explore Mexico and immerse yourself in the culture, you need this book to figure out how things work (or don’t) around here. The People’s Guide to Mexico is the classic guide to “living, traveling, and taking things as they come” in Mexico.
Bahia de los Angeles Hotels & Camping
The accommodations in Bahia de los Angeles range from campgrounds to small hotels. You can find hotels and campgrounds along the beach north of town or in the town.
The town itself is next to the water, but it’s more of a port and not as nice as the beaches to the north and south. The good thing about staying in town is that the small grocery stores, restaurants, and bars are all within walking distance and you can just take day trips to the nicer beaches.
If you stay along the beach, you have limited access to services and you have to take trips to town for any necessities.
It’s up to you, but we prefer staying on the beautiful beaches and stocking up on food and water when we go to town.
Hotels in Bahia de los Angeles
Hotel Costa del Sol: A popular hotel in town that has delicious tacos and margaritas at the onsite restaurant. It’s near the stores and restaurants, and it’s a short walk away from the beach in town.
Los Vientos Hotel: The nicest hotel in the area. It’s located north of town on a long, sandy beach right on the Sea of Cortez. It has wifi, secure parking, sea view rooms, a restaurant, a bar, and a pool. The hotel also has kayaks for rent and onsite whale watching and fishing tours by boat.
There are only a handful of vacation rentals in Bahia de los Angeles.
Campo Archelon: Several beach cabins for rent with kitchen, hammock, and outdoor seating area for $80 to $150 USD. They accept reservations and take credit cards.
Bahia de los Angeles Camping
The camping in Bahia de los Angeles is everything that Baja dreams are made of! You can camp right on the shore, have a campfire on the beach, and fall asleep to the sound of the gentle waves.
Campo Archelón: Our favorite campground in Bahia de los Angeles. It’s pretty popular in the winter, but if you’re lucky enough – or make a reservation – you can get one of the campsites with stone-walled palapas that shield you from the Baja sun and afternoon wind for $160 pesos, or $8 USD (as of November 2022), for two people. Camping on the beach front sand lot is $120 pesos, or $6 USD, for two people.
Amenities at the former sea turtle research center include flushing toilets, hot showers, fast satellite wifi, and an onsite restaurant with local craft beer and wine from Valle de Guadalupe (Baja’s wine country) that accepts card payments. We love that it’s locally owned and operated by a family of marine biologists.
Daggett’s Beach Camping: A sport fishing hub with pangas for rent, a restaurant, rooms ($1,200 pesos for two people, or $60 USD) and campsites with palapas ($200 pesos per person, or $10 USD).
Playa la Gringa: The best beach for dispersed camping, or boondocking, in Bahia de los Angeles. It’s an isolated beach north of town, a few miles up a 2WD accessible dirt road that ends at an estuary with a rocky point. There are no facilities, but you can camp for free on the sand and rocks on the southern side of the point before the estuary. Do not drive onto or camp on the beach on the northern side or in the protected estuary (there are signs saying it’s prohibited). Sometimes locals come by and collect trash for a fee.
Where to Restock on Fuel, Food and Water
Mercado La Isla is the one-stop shop for food and water in Bahia de los Angeles. It’s a small grocery store with the largest variety of fresh produce, shelf-stable goods, deli meats and cheese, and liquor in town. They accept cards, have wifi for a fee, and a self-service purified water fill for $15 pesos a garrafon (a 20 liter water jug that’s commonly used for water in Mexico).
There are two gas stations in Bahia de los Angeles, but you should fill up before you get here because they’ve been known to run out of fuel.
Things to Do in Bahia de Los Angeles
Enjoy a Morning on the Bay
Bring your own inflatable kayak or SUP to go for a morning paddle on the bay before the afternoon winds pick up. Snorkeling is another great activity to do while the water is calm.
Hike to the Top of Punta la Gringa
Punta la Gringa is a rocky point that’s nearly entirely surrounded by water at the end of Playa la Gringa. Put some hiking shoes on (to protect your feet from the cactus) and take the trail up for some epic views of the bay.
Relax on the Beach
There are plenty of pristine beaches to choose from in Bay of LA. The most popular Bahia de los Angeles beaches are Playa La Gringa to the north of town and Playa La Mona to the south.
Visit the Museum
If you’re in town, visit the small, yet educational, Museo de Naturaleza y Cultura, Museum of Nature and Culture. It’s has information on the natural and cultural heritage of the region, ranging from historical artifacts to over 500 species of shells. The museum is open Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 12 pm and closed from August to September. The entry fee is donation based.
Swim with Whale Sharks
Swimming with whale sharks is one of the most popular things to do in Bahia de los Angeles. During whale shark season (typically July through November), you can hire a tour boat and snorkel with the world’s biggest fish. The cost is generally around $200 USD for up to 6 people.
If you’re off-season for whale sharks, you can hire a boat to see the fin whales instead. They’re the second largest whales in the sea.
See the Punta Arenas Lighthouse
Take a sunset walk to see the picturesque faro, lighthouse, along the sand spit with the town harbor on one side and the open bay on the other. There’s an estuary that’s excellent for birdwatching.
Off-road Day Trip to San Borja Mission
If you have a 4×4 high clearance vehicle, take the scenic drive out to see the Misión San Francisco Borja de Adac (San Borja Mission). The caretakers give guided tours of the mission and tours of nearby rock art. Make the side trip out to Valle Montevideo to see the pre-hispanic rock paintings.
Scuba Dive in the Sea of Cortez
Ricardo’s Diving Tours (Tel: +52 200-124-9264) has diving boat tours to Isla Coronado and tours to see the whale shark and sea lion colonies off of the islands.
The Complete Guide to Bahia de los Angeles
We hope this guide to Bahia de los Angeles helps you plan your trip and enjoy these pristine Mexican beaches.
We did our best to include everything you need to know to visit this hidden gem in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, but please let us know in the comments below if you have any extra tips we should add in.
More Places to Visit in Baja California
- Gray Whale Watching in Baja California
- Fun Things to Do in Tijuana, Mexico
- Complete Guide to San Felipe, Baja California
- Puertecitos: Hidden Hot Springs by the Sea
Have you visited Bahia de los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below.